CYIL vol. 11 (2020)

MARTINA GROCHOVÁ – ĽUBOMÍR MAJERČÍK CYIL 11 (2020) another crisis in the future? May we legitimately expect that a similar approach will be adopted? Clear reasoning of the decision to suspend and further prolong the suspension of time limits would help to understand not only, what were the arguments behind the decision, but also what to expect in future. Authority to modify the treaty provision on the six-month time limit International Court of Justice (ICJ) held in its advisory opinion on the Interpretation of the Agreement of 25 March 1951 between the WHO and Egypt that “international organizations are subjects of international law and, as such, are bound by any obligations incumbent upon them under general rules of international law, under their constitutions or under international agreements to which they are parties”. 6 The six-month time limit for lodging of an application is enshrined directly in the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically in its Article 35 para 1 which states that the Court “may only deal with the matter […] within a period of six months from the date on which the final decision was taken.” The Convention itself also specifies the rules for any changes to it. According to Article 59, the Convention may only be signed and ratified by the member states of the Council of Europe and, according to Article 57, only the member states may make a reservation in respect of a particular provision. Thus, the regulation encompassed in the Convention itself does not provide for any authority of the Court to unilaterally change a specific provision. Any legal basis for such a step may be found neither in the Statute of the Council of Europe 7 nor in the Rules of the Court 8 . In the past, both procedural and substantive provisions of the Convention have been modified by 16 protocols which were adopted as separate international treaties by the member states of the Council of Europe. We may distinguish two types of additional protocols – supplementing protocols and amending protocols. The supplementing protocols add an extra layer of protection / rights (Nos. 1, 4, 6, 7, 12 and 13) or extra competences (No. 16) to the whole system. Their entry into force does not require ratification by all member states. For that reason, the oldest Protocol No. 1 is effective even absent ratification by Switzerland and Monaco. Whereas, the amending protocols revise the organisation and procedures of the whole human rights system and necessitate the ratification by all the member states of the Council of Europe (with the short-lived exception of Protocol No. 9). Thus, it is politically sensitive and time consuming to amend provisions of the Convention (and rightly so) 9 . The modification of the time limit set for lodging of an application has already been considered by governments within the Interlaken reform process of the Court. It has been 6 Interpretation of the Agreement of 25 March 1951 between the WHO and Egypt, Advisory Opinion of 20 December 1980, ICJ Reports 1980: 73. 7 Statute of the Council of Europe, ETS No.001, 5 May 1949. 8 Rules of Court, 1 January 2020. Under Rule 32 (Practice directions) the President of the Court may issue practice directions, notably in relation to such matters as appearance at hearings and the filing of pleadings and other documents . Various Practice directions are annexed to the Rules of the Court and they obviously clarify practical issues concerning the proceedings (such as anonymity requests, electronic filings), not admissibility requirements or other substantial matters laid down in the Convention. 9 For more than three years, Russian Federation was hesitating to ratify Protocol No. 14 to the Convention which led to unorthodox measures such as resorting to the provisional application of the Protocol pending its entry into force and adoption of Protocol No. 14bis.


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